SC to hear plea against EC's notification on RS bypolls

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to urgently take up on June 19 a plea by Gujarat Congress against the Election Commission's decision to hold separate bypolls on two Rajya Sabha seats which fell vacant after BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani were elected to Lok Sabha.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant posted the writ petition filed by Pareshbhai Dhanani, leader of opposition in Gujarat Assembly and state Congress leader for hearing on Wednesday.

Senior advocate and Congress MP Vivek Tankha, along with Varun Chopra mentioned the matter for urgent hearing.

Dhanani accused the BJP of "trying to use the office of the EC to somehow have its party rule the Rajya Sabha despite not having complete proportion to elect both seats to Council of States". 

The party contended "such manoeuvring" by the BJP and the EC to suit their political agenda actually amounted to a "death knell to the democracy which is a basic feature of our Constitution".

He sought a declaration of the poll panel's notification for holding separate polls from two Upper House seats from Gujarat as "unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary and void".

The party feared that if the bypolls were not conducted together, the party may lose chance of winning one seat, despite its strength of 71 legislators.

The petitioner, a Member of Legislative Assembly from Amreli Assembly Constituency, said, "the EC's notification is wrong, unconstitutional and raises questions over the impartiality of the poll panel.”

On June 15, the Election Commission had announced bypolls to six Rajya Sabha seats on July 5.

In a statement, the commission said that the vacancies for bypolls to all Houses, including the Rajya Sabha, are considered "separate vacancies" and separate notifications are issued and separate polls are held, though the schedule can be the same.

The Congress felt that in case of separate elections, the BJP would have an advantage as it is the ruling party and it can win both the seats.

The petitioner contended that lack of appropriate decision by the EC despite 

several representations demonstrated "abdication, indecision and a complete absence of justice, in ensuring a level playing field and ensuring the essence 

of minority representation through proportional representation to 

elect members to the Council of States for the state of Gujarat".

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